Reflections on the Rain in Laurelhurst

Dear Liza,

For the last few days, we have been in a river…. an atmospheric river, to be exact. This is a system of very wet air that has blown up from the tropics, bumped into our cold air, and is just dumping water like crazy. This is a lot of rain, even for drippy Portland.

Perfect reflections

So of course we went for a walk to lovely Laurelhurst Park. The hillsides are muddy and very slick, so I stayed on the path. The last thing I need from 2020 is a busted bottom. The puddles forming by the path made perfect mirrors to appreciate the majestic trees and gray skies.

Firwood Lake has had a particularly thick layer of duckweed this year, looking more like a soccer field in some areas. But at the east end, a surreal swirly effect is finding new ways to be beautiful.

And just as I thought the swirly green and black water couldn’t get more weirdly beautiful, a raindrop plopped in and created concentric circles.

Life is beautiful, even (or maybe especially) in the rain.


Grandma Judy

After the Ghouls Have Gone Home

Inflatable Dragon


Dear Liza,

Happy November! It feels weird when a holiday is over….all that preparation and decoration and anticipation and then…whoosh, it’s gone. But we had a nice Halloween and I hope you did, too.

Owl tree carved from a real owl tree

We walked around the neighborhood and saw more wonderful decorations. An owl and tree were carved from a tree that had grown on that same spot. There was even a dragon roaring from a high balcony.

The autumn light has been most entertaining, as well. Yesterday I walked out at noon to go to the research library, and the sun wasn’t “at high noon”… it was in the southern part of the sky, low enough to be in my eyes as I walked south.

Light and Shadows at Lone Fir

This odd light angle has also made beautiful shadows. Lone Fir Cemetery just keeps getting more beautiful as the season goes on. Laurelhurst Park, as well, changes with the light. The pond, ducks, and trees become wonderful Monet-style paintings.

And of course, for Halloween night, Auntie Bridgett painted us both up as skulls for giving away candy at the door. But no kids came! So we filled our pockets with candy and, in full make-up, coats and hats, walked around the neighborhood, giving candy to folks and withing everyone a Happy Halloween!

Sweet Grandma Judy


Grandma Judy

Monet style ducks

Talking about Birds

GetAttachmentThumbnail-5.jpgDear Liza,

Our unusually hot weather is supposed to continue all this week, even getting up to 107 degrees on Wednesday. So we are doing walks in the early mornings and late evenings, when it is cool. This morning Grandpa Nelson and I went out around 9, while Auntie Bridgett was working.

We headed to Laurelhurst Park, because the huge trees make it delightfully cool and shady. Before we got to the park, we noticed a yard that has had a small flock of plastic flamingos in it. The flamingos are usually perched under a small tree, but for the last few days. they have been gone. We were a little worried. Had someone taken them? Where were they?

Today, they were back! And they must have been camping, because they were in their usual place but with the addition of a small make-believe campfire, sticks with pretend marshmallows, and a small tent with two flamingos in sleeping bags. Some of the flamingos were wearing little hats or coats. It was so cute! One of the things I like about Portland is that even the grown-ups like being silly. Since we are silly, too, it makes us feel at home.


Once we got into the park, We heard some high screeching up above. We looked and saw two young  hawks chasing each other through the trees, as if they were arguing. This is one of the kinds of birds we saw at the zoo,  that have learned to live in the city.

Young Hawk Photo

These two hawks seemed very healthy, and had very strong opinions about which tree was theirs. We watched for a while, talking with some people who have seen young hawks here every summer. Laurelhurst Park is big enough that it must feel like a forest.

Further into the park, we heard the usual bunch of crows talking to each other, chasing each other around and eating leftover sandwiches from picnics the night before. They seemed careful to stay away from the part of the park where the hawks were. I guess in the world of birds, hawks are tougher than crows.

We went for another walk much later, after the sun had gone down. We walked the neighborhood, noticing that some of the smaller trees are looking dry with all this hot weather. On our way home through the Laurelhurst Park, we saw about 50 people, dancing…to no music. There were hoops being tossed in the air, and long ribbons being twirled, and dancers all over.


Then we noticed that they were all wearing headphones, and it turns out they were all listening to the same music, which was being played by a DJ and broadcast to their earphones. This looked a little strange, but it is a good way to have a dance party in the middle of a neighborhood and not bother anyone else with the music. What a good idea!


Grandma Judy